The Best Part of a Trip

Many people claim the best part of a trip is coming home. But not me, not until recently. I love the going, the being someplace new. But the coming home? Not so much. Not usually. We’ve just returned (at 3:30 a.m.!) from a trip to the other side of the country. The two days of travel each way on planes and buses and ferries, with hours-long delays both coming and going, wore me out. The time difference was only three hours but my brain feels fuzzy with jet lag of the magnitude of a trip halfway around the world. While we and thousands of others (more people than there were seats) waited out a thunderstorm raging outside O’Hare airport last night, one thought kept me going.

“I can’t wait to be home.”

What changed? Maybe I never really felt at home before, anywhere. I had my wings and I loved spreading them. My rootless life suited me just fine. A few years in this place, a few more in that one. The adventure and challenge of getting to know a new culture—even within my home country—and new people energizes me. I love to travel and want to see as much of the world as I possibly can.

The world is my home. And no matter how permanent I may try to make it feel, the fact is, wherever I hang my hat is only temporary. My final destination is beyond anything I’ve ever known. If you share that perspective, how can you ever feel “at home” in any corner of it?

Even when my sojourn in a place is only a few years, I do try to bloom. But am I planted? How do you dig your roots down deep in one place while still keeping yourself open to something new, a new chapter that God may be writing just for you? Perhaps it’s because of my nomadic lifestyle that verses about being planted have always resonated so strongly with me.

I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

Jeremiah 32:40-41

I’ve heard it said that the actual living of a vacation is secondary to the fun that comes at either end: both anticipating it and then reliving it through memories and pictures. Stressful moments, guaranteed with any trip, become funny anecdotes days or months later. We tend to keep only certain memories, usually the good ones.

This time, I can’t imagine anything topping the living of our trip. Doing riddles and card tricks with our eight- and nine-year-old granddaughters, having a sleepover with them and watching “Coco” together, seeing them both emotional in their individual ways when we said good-bye. Seeing our three toddler grandchildren’s unique and precious personalities blossom, observing what they like and the kinds of things they enjoy doing, hearing them call us “Nanapops” as one long word.

Since it was difficult to leave, knowing we won’t see them for a while, the pull to home especially amazed me. Could it be that I’ve actually put down roots in North Carolina? In this place it seems we randomly chose, but was chosen for us?

Or is it just my tiredness and my head cold (I never quite pack warm enough clothes for the islands we visited, just a stone’s throw from Canada)? Does my age make my amoeba-shaped self finally find comfort in the routine of my husband’s square pegs?

I don’t know. All I can say is upon returning from the chilly Pacific Northwest to the humid Southeast, with mosquito bites and frizzy hair already, I’m still glad to be back.

I’m home. For now. And it feels good.

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